Three things in the WCHA, Nov. 30

After last weekend featured all 10 league teams in action against each other, this weekend found the action dialed back a little, with just three league series and two teams having byes. Three notable things, from my view:

1. Solid weekend for top teams

After their exciting series in Houghton (one that the Mavericks swept in a pair of close games), both Minnesota State and Michigan Tech continued to dominate their competition on the road. The Mavericks swept Lake Superior State while Michigan Tech swept Alabama Huntsville.

The Mavs had a little easier time of things in the Soo — winning the series with a 7-0 and 3-0 games. Stephon Williams stopped all 45 shots to slam the door on the Lakers.

Meanwhile in Huntsville, Tech had a little tougher time with the Chargers, as the teams played a pair of back-and-forth games before Tech won 4-2 and 5-2 in a battle of WCHA Engineering Schools.

Tech currently sits in first place in the league standings with 20 points in 12 games but the Mavs, who have 18 points in 10 games, host Alaska this weekend with a chance to pull ahead of the Huskies, who have the weekend off.

With just two weeks before the holiday break, there’s a chance these teams could be tied at the top of the standings going into the end of December.

2. Wildcats split in Alaska

No. 19 Northern Michigan returns from its two-weeklong Alaska trip with a 2-2 record. Neither Alaska team is easy to beat at home, much less sweep, so the Wildcats have to be pleased to return to the Lower 48 with two wins and four points.

After splitting with Alaska-Anchorage two weekends ago (winning 1-0 then losing 4-0), NMU managed a split with Alaska in Fairbanks this past weekend. The Nanooks won 3-0 Friday before the Wildcats rallied to win 4-1 Saturday.

Goaltender Mathias Dahlström, despite giving up eight goals on the weekend, still has the best goals against average (1.19) in the country.

However, NMU has scored just 25 goals in 12 games — in the bottom half of the WCHA in scoring offense. They’ll want to improve their scoring to bail out Dahlström and make it a little easier on themselves than the white-knuckle, close games they’ve found themselves in.

Also: circle next weekend on your calendar (in case you forget that next weekend is just five days away). The Wildcats host No. 15 Bowling Green in a battle of two surprising WCHA contenders.

3. Beavers finally find a reward

After losing seven straight — including three straight league series — Bemidji State finally snapped their “play well but can’t finish” streak Saturday, beating No. 16 St. Cloud State 4-1 in Bemidji. Not only did this game feature the much-anticipated “Triple Fitzg3rald” (aka, a Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald) goal) but also had senior goaltender Andrew Walsh in prime form. He stopped 34 shots for his second win of the season.

Although the Beavers’ 4-10-0 record doesn’t seem like much, they’ve shown what they have the potential to do against some top-quality competition. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win some more games if they can find the back of the net with more consistency.

88 COMMENTS

  1. The last swap confused me as well. If you want Bowling green in the midwest, why not make the swap moving BC to Fargo. Denver is a direct flight to Fargo and I don’t understand the WCHA 1st round matchup issue. Where is that?

    • I thought the same thing. There’s no WCHA-WCHA matchup if Providence goes to Providence, QU goes to Manchester, BC goes to Fargo, and Bowling Green goes to South Bend. I think Jayson confused himself and Omaha should have stayed in South Bend, Denver in Fargo, and Tech in Providence…

  2. While current rankings will change. A good predictor of the group of death is the sum of each group’s rankings. This leaves us with Providence 31, Manchester 35, South Bend 36, Fargo 34.
    Mathematically, Providence is toughest, while I would argue Manchester does seem like the group of death. Then Fargo.
    Which raises the question, why would the No 1 seed (NoDak) have the second toughest group?
    Either way…Manchester seems loaded on paper.

  3. First thought… Miami will be wishing they were a #2 tier seed. Except for MTU, I’ve seen the other 3 play at least 3 times… Yale’s speed (as well as PC’s) will be a huge problem… Just my opinion.
    2nd thought… Should Mich St win this weekend and/or their tournament, BIG will be hard-pressed to get a 2nd PWR team in. Just my opinion.

    • Not to mention the location of the regional with Providence playing minutes from campus and Yale just 100 miles away. Would certainly be a tough regional, but these days, there aren’t really any easy regionals anymore. I’d argue South Bend provides the easiest path for the #1 seed to advance, although UND in Fargo is going to be pretty tough no matter who else is there.

    • Maybe. If they sweep Penn St. this weekend and win one game in Detroit, but lose in the championship, there is a good chance they’ll still be above the cut line.

  4. Actually Michigan produces more NHL players than Minny. As much as it pains me to say, the Siouxage have more NHL players than Gophs. Being g a gopher fan sucks. No rivalries, team and conference both suck. Can’t bear to cheer for NoDak, or Duluth, go Tech.

    • You’re wrong my friend, not by much though…. Minny and Mich are tops for sure! go to Quanthockey . com nhl/state-totals/active-nhl-players-career-stats and it will give you the stats each season. I tried to post the link but it wouldn’t let me.

  5. Love to see a NCHC Frozen Four … BUT … my guess is by final bracket time, it will be engineered out. For attendance sake, or the like.

  6. So after this weekend, the pairwise creates pods like this:

    1 North Dakota, 8 Neb Omaha, 9 Boston College, 16 Atl. Hockey automatic
    2 Minn State, 7 Miami, 10 Providence, 15 ECAC at-large/UMass Lowell
    3 Denver, 6 UM-Duluth, 11 Bowling Green, 14 ECAC winner
    4 Boston U, 5 Mich. Tech., 12 Minnesota, 13 St. Cloud State

    So here’s my question. Would you move Providence so that the 2 seed isn’t penalized by playing in a lower seed’s rink? Best option seems to be BU’s pod, if you do that then you can’t move Boston College into an eastern pod. The West regional also doesn’t need any attendance help at all, so I’m thinking when all is done you end up with:

    Fargo — 1 North Dakota, 8 Neb-Omaha, 11 Bowling Green, 16 auto
    South Bend — 2 Minn. State, 7 Miami, 12 Minnesota, 15 ECAC at-large/Mass Lowell
    Manchester — 3 Denver, 6 UM-Duluth, 9 Boston College, 14 ECAC winner
    Providence — 4 Boston U, 5 Mich. Tech, 10 Providence, 13 St. Cloud State

    Hopefully next year they have regional sitings that better reflect the balance of power in NCAA hockey. Having two regionals in New England and the Frozen Four in Boston is just ridiculous. No idea what knucklehead thought that was a good idea.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here